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Expert Productivity Tip: What To Do When You’re Toast

Kurt BirkenhagenKurt Birkenhagen

failed meetings

You can’t always be on.

Many productivity gurus subtly deliver the idea we’re supposed to be constantly busy. It’s great to be high-energy, but unless you have an unlimited capacity for coffee or enough sugar to fuel a candy factory, there’s going to come a time when you do not have optimal push. You may not even have regular push. Or any push at all.

While it’s tempting to just slump over your desk and drool, all the stuff you’re supposed to do piles up.

And you barely have enough energy to refill your stapler.

The answer to your problem is right there, in your stapler. You may not have enough focus to craft a proposal or make a call, but you probably do have enough juice to refill your stapler.

When you’re toast, do simple chores

This tactic can be amazing effective. Once the little housekeeping items are done and your energy returns, you’ll be able to crank full-steam ahead without having to slow down for niggling little tasks.

We all have mundane office chores we have to do. Even CEOs with support staffs have simple things they must do to keep their business lives in order.

So what should you do, right now, once your stapler is filled?

If your brain is too stalled to think of even one simple office chore (we’ve all been there), here’s some inspiration:

24 things to do when you’re fried

1) Delete 100 emails. Or 1,000.

2) Unsubscribe from 5 email lists.

3) Purge 10 things from your desk.

4) Purge 50 pieces of paper from your filing cabinet.

5) Back up your data.

6) Research a topic you need to know better.

7) Do something nice for your significant other.

8) Do something nice for someone in your office.

9) Remember your reading list?

10) Read five posts on an industry blog.

11) Network on LinkedIn.

12) Clean your computer/desk/keyboard.

13) Take a couple of GBs off your computer by archiving some files or running an optimization program.

14) Fill out any paperwork your organization requires.

15) Take a walk. If you bring a friend, you can call it a meeting. If you feel guilty about leaving your desk to take a walk, bring a notebook and a pen. Now you look like you’re in a meeting.

16) Write a thank you note or send a thank you email.

17) Do a favor for someone.

18) Fix a tech hitch you haven’t had time to tackle.

19) Re-arrange your office.

20) Make a list of supplies you need. Order them.

21) Watch YouTube videos or TEDTalks related to your industry.

22) If you work at home, go clean and organize your house.

23) Take a nap. This is impossible for most of us, but if you’re one of the lucky few, nap away. If napping is out, a massage or manicure will work. Bring the notebook and pen if you have to.

24) Think of three things to not do. Ponder your upcoming tasks, commitments and projects. Is there something you could cut? Overwhelm alone can wear us out.

As your energy returns, resume higher RPM tasks.

If you have a moment of high-productivity time to spare, make a list of things to do the next time you’re tapped. Then when it comes around, you won’t even have to think.

Head of sales and marketing efforts for conferencing and collaboration company - Vast Conference. Enthusiastic client advocate focused on design and product development to deliver simple, easy-to-use conference call and online meeting services.

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